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Academic Music Personal Statement

Like many, my love of music was first cultivated through my love of performing. However, over time I realised that my true interests lie in studying music as an academic discipline. For me, the sheer beauty of music is its ability to communicate emotion. I believe that it is far from mere coincidence that we speak of harmonic 'vocabulary' or associate cadences with punctuation. Music is fundamentally a language; it is a form of communication. However, it is far less defined than the spoken word. This makes music subjective and it is this subjectivity that intrigues me. It encourages musical debate in which I look forward to participating whilst at university.

The thing that attracts me most about studying music at degree level is the vast array of sub-disciplines it encompasses. From something as mathematically involved as advanced musical analysis (Set-theoretical in particular) to the artistic freedom of composition, music is a remarkably broad field. I see musical study as essentially an exploration of human culture, but through a unique and incredibly stimulating medium. This is, of course, the fundamental premise of ethnomusicology. Nonetheless, the same approaches are as applicable to Western Art Music. Musicology at this interface is one area I hope to explore further.

Always keen to explore beyond my A Level syllabus, I have recently subscribed to Music Theory Spectrum and have read Nicholas Cook's 'Music: A Very Short Introduction' and 'A Guide To Musical Analysis.' The former was an accessible insight into thinking philosophically about music while the latter presented a fascinating critical response to contemporary analyses, each of which was introduced very sympathetically.

My other A level subjects, namely Chemistry and Maths, complement music well. Both revolve around recognising and manipulating patterns. Their aim is to rationalise and bring order to the natural chaos of the universe. Similarly, the principles of tonality are designed to bring order and hierarchy to what could otherwise be perceived as musical chaos. I have always had a natural flair for maths as well as passion for the subject. I can think of nothing more convincing or rigorous than using mathematical models to prove a hypothesis. I enjoy very much the process of discovering algebraic proofs and hope to develop this skill in the future.

Outside College I have a very active life. I am Principal Horn in Luton Youth Concert Band, Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, as well as a member of Bedfordshire Youth County Orchestra. I am a keen singer and a member of an amateur dramatics group. I feel that these endeavours have helped me mature as both a performer and musician. I have achieved ABRSM Grade 8 merit on my Horn and plan to take an ATCL diploma in left-handed piano in 2008. A particular strength of mine is a willingness to be flexible and diverse in my interests. Recently, I took on the role of editor for my College team in the T.E.S Newsday Competition. We finished second overall in this prestigious national event. I have recently joined the College's debating society with whom I intend to enter the national competition, 'Debating Matters.' I have taken a one year course run by NFTE which, taken independently from my studies, allowed me to create and run a small enterprise. This helped me develop my skills in teamwork and organisation, attributes which will undoubtedly prove valuable at university.

My recent experience at a Cambridge University Sutton Trust Summer School affirmed my desire to study a music related course in higher education. I am extremely excited about my enrolment onto a degree course and look forward to speaking with you at interview.

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This personal statement was written by joanfi for application in 2008.

joanfi's Comments

This statement is what I used when applying to academic degree courses in Music (as opposed to conservatoire courses). It got me in to Cambridge so it can't be that bad!

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